Monster finalizing NASCAR activation plans

With a month left before the Daytona 500, activation plans for new NASCAR Cup Series title sponsor Monster Energy are coming into view. Corona, California-based Monster plans to have in-market retail promos as soon as Daytona, and an at-track sampling presence at every race on NASCAR's 36-race schedule, according to Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing for Monster. Monster's activation plans are still being finalized, but its spend is expected to be smaller than Sprint's.

Though declining to name which convenience stores it is targeting, Covington said Monster will leverage its rights at retail. For example, Monster, which often uses merchandise giveaways to build brand awareness, has a long-running retail promotion where people who buy Monster beverages get a free Monster sticker. Monster is considering running that promo around Daytona but with stickers that feature the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series logo.
At the track, Monster has expressed interest in having signage on all four turns of many oval tracks, sources said. However, Covington was not able to confirm that and said plans could vary by track. Sources added that Monster has shown less interest in non-track-facing signage than Sprint, which had a presence throughout many tracks' footprints.

At track, Monster has had a hospitality presence for years with a custom infield structure where it did sampling with guests, and plans to offer hospitality guest sampling at every NASCAR race this year. Monster also now intends to do consumer sampling at a number of races on midway fan zones to reach all fans at the track. Monster typically gives away full cans for sampling rather than pouring drinks in containers because it believes consumers should sample its beverages the same way they'll buy it, and because "a can in someone's hand is the best advertising we can do," Covington said. The company plans to continue doing so in NASCAR.

To that point, Covington said Monster plans to have its products strategically placed around tracks but "we're not going to ask or force the drivers at all to drink a Monster Energy can because it looks staged, and we think today's consumers are smarter than that; we really don't want it to look like they're being sold."

Monster plans to take about a dozen Monster Girls to races. The models serve alongside celebrity endorsers as Monster's most visible ambassadors. Monster took only two to four Monster Girls in prior years, when it was solely a team sponsor of Stewart-Haas Racing's #41 Chevy driven by Kurt Busch. Covington said there is a good chance Monster will have a presence in victory lane, but he was not ready to release further details.

Monster continues to work out its media plans as well. Mike Petruzzi, Fox Sports' senior vice president of ad sales and sports management, said Fox is in discussions with Monster and anticipates "a partnership that is more in line with a custom-content opportunity that will amplify what they're doing day in and day out with the sport." Los Angeles Business Journal

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